The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned on Wednesday that global warming would likely exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) within the next five years. This is the first time such a probability has been predicted.
The 1.5C threshold is the long-term warming limit set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, aimed at preventing the worst impacts of climate change.
“There is a 66 percent chance that we would exceed 1.5 degrees during the coming five years. It’s practically sure that we will see the warmest year on record during the coming five years,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “It’s a conclusion that we haven’t been able to limit warming so far, and we are still moving in the wrong direction.”
Between 2017 and 2021, scientists estimated just a 10% chance of hitting the 1.5C mark. This new forecast is more of a long-term weather prediction than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s climate projections, which are based on future greenhouse gas emissions.
The WMO also found a 98% chance that one of the next five years will be the hottest on record, surpassing 2016, which saw global temperatures impacted by about 1.3C (2.3F) of warming.
“There is no return back to the good old days because we already have such a high concentration of carbon dioxide, and also of course, we have also increased the methane concentration in the atmosphere, and the best that we can do is to phase out these negative trends.,” Taalas warned.
He added that the most dramatic changes are expected to occur in the Arctic, where temperatures are predicted to rise three times the global average in the next five years.
“And the return back to normal level might take even thousands of years, because we already have such a high concentration of carbon dioxide, and we have for example lost the melting of glaciers and sea level rise game,” Taalas said.